Combating Hunger, Creating Opportunity

DC Central Kitchen is America's leader in reducing hunger with recycled food, training unemployed adults for culinary careers, serving healthy school meals, and rebuilding urban food systems through social enterprise.
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Updates for Healthy Futures

Home Cooking vs. Hunger Week: Let’s Talk Live Videos

, June 20th, 2014

Check out our staff on Let’s Talk Live this week, featuring our efforts to fight hunger and promote healthy eating. We’re excited to be part of this Home Cooking vs. Hunger Week. A huge thanks to Walmart and NewsChannel 8 for promoting our work.

Healthy Corners Doubling Number of Stores This Summer

, May 30th, 2014
Healthy Corners

DCCK has partnered with Zenful Bites to conduct outreach events at each new store opening.

The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) is providing DC Central Kitchen with a $250,000 grant to double the number of stores participating in Healthy Corners. Healthy Corners is the first program of its kind aimed at combating food deserts and making healthier food more available in DC’s low income communities. Since 2011, DC Central Kitchen has partnered with 33 corner stores to provide fresh produce and healthy snacks at the stores, which are often the closest affordable grocery option. With the DSLBD grant, DC Central Kitchen will expand the program to 63 stores this summer.

The grant will help DC Central Kitchen continue its important work of providing the District’s underserved communities with healthy food. DC Central Kitchen has been instrumental in leveraging their resources to provide valuable services to vulnerable populations, and we are very grateful for their work. - Robert Summers, Director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development.

The agency’s partnership with DC Central Kitchen began two years ago when they funded the initial rollout of the program through a six-month pilot period. The program has since worked with many partners, including DC Department of Health, CoBANK, Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, NBC Universal, Tavis Smiley-UMD, Wallace Genetic Foundation and the McGuinn Family Foundation. By providing strategic marketing support and heavily discounted product, Healthy Corners has brought DC’s corner stores into the healthy food business. In 2013, the participating stores grossed over $40,000 in sales and sold over 7,500 nutritious snacks.

Today represents a proven approach to public-private partnerships in D.C. Thanks to the Department of Small and Local Business Development, we now have the resources to expand into new neighborhoods, making healthy food more affordable and accessible to District residents. – Michael F. Curtin, Jr., CEO, DC Central Kitchen

Visit our Healthy Corners page for more information about the program.

New Dehydrator Prevents Food Waste, Provides Healthy Snacks

, April 7th, 2014

Dehydrator Reduces Food Waste
Thanks to our friends at the CoStar Group, we now have a dehydrator at our Nutrition Lab that allows us to extend the life of fruit that would otherwise go to waste while creating new options for our line of Healthy Corners snacks.

Terence Hill, a graduate of our 93rd Culinary Job Training class, has been experimenting with dehydrating a variety of fruits including apples, bananas and pineapples that are approaching their sell by date. Produce items that may only have a couple good days left in their fresh state can last for months when properly dehydrated.

Healthy Corners will be incorporating these dried fruits into new varieties of trail mix, one of our most popular products, as well as selling them as stand-alone snacks. Terence is hard at work perfecting these new items, and they will roll out in our participating corner stores this summer.

Thanks to the CoStar Group for helping us bring these new products to our stores!

Food Day: 8 Ways We Use Food To Change Lives

, October 24th, 2013

Today is Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Here are 8 ways we’re using the power of food to change lives.

Combating Food Waste
Every day, DC Central Kitchen transforms 3,000 pounds of food into 5,000 meals that are distributed to local nonprofits serving at-risk populations and low income men and women. Last year, this saved the community over $3.6 million by transforming those leftovers into 2 million balanced meals.

Changing Lives through Culinary Job Training
Here at DC Central Kitchen, we believe that food not only nourishes bodies, but also minds, by creating opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. Through our 14 week Culinary Job Training Program, we’re shortening the line of the city’s hungry people and creating jobs for unemployed men and women in the food and hospitality industry.

Breaking through Nutritional Barriers with Healthy School Food
We’re serving 4,800 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers every day at 9 DC schools. At the schools, we’re not just serving food but also changing eating habits and educating kids about nutrition. We’re teaching kids about how to eat healthier and how they can bring those healthy habits home.

Defeating Food Deserts with Healthy Corner Stores
Through our partnership with 32 DC corner stores, we’ve developed a new model to provide affordable fresh produce and healthy snacks for communities lacking sufficient access to nutritious food. Healthy Corners is the only program of its kind nationwide.

Resisting a Recession and Federal Shutdown
While Congress was squabbling over the budget and shutting down government services, DC Central Kitchen served over 80,000 meals to 88 local nonprofits and 60,000 meals to 9 DC Schools. Our meals saved those local nonprofits over $156,000, which they reinvested into unique programs serving their clients. DC Central Kitchen also creates jobs for its culinary graduates, and has hired over 60 men and women to produce our healthy and scratch-cooked meals.

Investing in Local Farms
Last year, we invested $156,523 in local farms by buying their produce and meat products, giving those farmers a crucial role in our work to combat hunger and poor health in DC by providing their healthy produce for our scratch-cooked meals.

Providing Street Outreach with First Helping
Every morning, DC Central Kitchen’s First Helping Outreach Team serves hot breakfasts at 3 sites around the city while connecting over 100 chronically homeless men and women to crucial services including drug rehabilitation, job placement, skills training, and transitional housing.

Partnering with the Restaurant Industry
DC Central Kitchen partners with hundreds of restaurants each year. Our city’s restaurants and chefs host our Culinary Job Training students as interns in their kitchens and teach special lessons. They also team up with us for great fundraising events, like the upcoming Capital Food Fight which will bring over 75 of our restaurant partners together to support DC Central Kitchen.

Donate now to double your impact

, April 11th, 2013

Donate today to double your impact

If you care about homelessness, hunger, or the crisis of childhood obesity, you’ve probably heard a lot of bad news lately.

But here’s some good news: our programs are working.

Make a gift to DC Central Kitchen today to invest in a life-changing new model that breaks the cycle of poverty and poor health.

When you support DC Central Kitchen:

Robin Quivers and her 15 Foundation know that DC Central Kitchen’s programs offer meaningful answers to big problems. Thanks to Robin’s generosity, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. Please make your gift now to double your impact!

We Are The Job Creators

, February 6th, 2013

Culinary Job Training Class 91 students at the Cook Off

This post, republished from The Huffington Post, kicks off our Job Raising Campaign. You can join us in shortening the line and empowering men and women to change their lives. Visit our Crowdrise page and make a contribution today. Your contribution helps us reach our goal of winning $150,000 from the Skoll Foundation. Tell your friends and spread the word.

Lots of smart, good, hard-working people give their time, money, and energy to DC Central Kitchen because they think we’re a great charity. We are thrilled that people support us because they feel we are doing the right thing or the good thing, but we really hope people understand that what we are doing is the smart thing.

For too long those of us in the nonprofit sector have been happy to fit ourselves into the charity model – give us your pennies and we’ll solve your dollar problems – but we have to be honest and say that that simply isn’t getting us to the place we need to be. We may have the heart of a nonprofit, but our brain is all business. In fact, today, we are an $11 million per year business – and our leading product is empowerment. The difference between us and a “regular” business, however, is that business is in it to make money; we’re in it to make change.

At DCCK, our social enterprises, which include the production of nearly 5,000 healthy, scratch-cooked school meals each day and a gourmet catering company that generated $1.3 million in revenue last year, are not separate from our social service programs. Instead, they are extensions of our mission. We operate two busy commercial kitchens here in the District of Columbia, staffed almost entirely with graduates of our Culinary Job Training program. The men and women we train come to us after extended stays in prison cells, at drug rehabilitation programs, or on the welfare rolls. First, we help them get their heads right. Next, we give them tangible skills for work in the culinary industry. Finally, we help them find jobs. Many find those jobs at DC Central Kitchen.

Today, 68 graduates of our program work for us. Every new hire starts at a living wage – in DC, that’s $12.50 an hour, with 100% paid health benefits, life insurance, paid sick leave and a company matched retirement plan. We didn’t start offering these packages because we had lots of money to spare. We did it to model to other employers, nonprofit and for-profit, that they can pay people well, provide great products and services, and still show a profit at the end of the day.

Now, after three years of rapid growth in our social enterprise activities, we have lots of that proof. Our Healthy School Food program is earning month-to-month profits, exceeding student participation targets, and providing schools in low-income DC neighborhoods with higher quality food service than they have ever had. Our catering company saw significant revenue growth in 2012, thanks to our expansion into a new kitchen facility. We’ve even begun delivering fresh produce and nutritious, handmade snacks to 29 corner stores in Washington’s ‘food deserts.’ In just the fourth quarter of last year, those participating retailers topped $10,000 in sales, showing that the residents of these communities will make healthy choices – they just need the opportunity, knowledge, and means to do so.

At DC Central Kitchen, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on local farm products each year, pay living wages, and train men and women that others have written off as helpless, or even hopeless, for real careers. We don’t do these things because they make us feel good. We don’t do them because donors tell us to. We do these things because they are the smartest things we can do in service of our community and our common future.